Categorized | National News

DNA Criticizes Gov’t Over FOI

The Democratic National Alliance yesterday said based on the government’s “clear negligence” to offer and display transparency, this only “further underscores the need for enactment of a viable Freedom of Information Act”.

The DNA charged that both this administration and the previous Free National Movement (FNM) administration allowed “this key piece of legislation to languish within the halls of parliament”.

“Despite passing the law in 2012, the then Free National Movement administration failed to ensure that this key legislation had the necessary teeth to be enacted. In the four years that this government has been in office, they too have dragged their feet and even after making what officials say was more than 100 amendments to the laws, it still lacks the kind of teeth, which guarantees unimpeded access to the people’s information, and also holds all governments accountable,” the DNA said in a statement.

The party added that much of its concern stems from how the legislation in its current form defines the public authority, entailing who is required to release requested information to the public.

“In its current form, such information is narrowly defined as a government ministry or statutory body which does little to ensure that the information released is accurate and free from any sort of political manipulation. In that same vein, the individual responsible for upholding the tenants of the legislation currently referred to as the information commissioner should also be free of political affiliation and should be independently appointed by committee featuring both government and opposition rather than being a political appointee as the current draft of the bill suggests,” the DNA said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald announced earlier this year, that the Freedom of Information Bill would be tabled sometime around November of this year; at which time he said the bill is “unquestionably a step in the right direction, as it strengthens democracy”.

During that time, the minister also launched a public consultation on the FOI bill, after a series of meetings held by a special committee which reviewed the provisions of the existing FOI, to ensure the best documentation going forward.

A Freedom of Information Act was passed back in January of 2012, but came under attack from civil society as the classes of information which were exempt from disclosure were too numerous.

Subsequently, after local and international consultation, it was decide to create the new bill.




Written by Jones Bahamas

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